Leinster v Edinburgh: defeat in Dublin drops Mike Blair’s side to fourth in URC

Hosts climb to second in table with bonus point win at RDS

Max Deegan scored Leinster's bonus-point try versus Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson
Max Deegan scored Leinster's bonus-point try versus Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson

Leinster 26

Edinburgh 7

WITH both clubs missing swathes of players on international duty the next generation showed some good ambition in Dublin’s RDS ground tonight [Friday] with an open and entertaining game. The result means Edinburgh miss out on the opportunity to climb to the summit of the United Rugby Championship, and Glasgow’s home win over Munster means they, in fact, drop behind their inter-city rivals to fourth in the table.

Leinster don’t lose many home games and the Dubliners weren’t going to give up this one either despite a shaky start.  They took their time to find their feet but once the home side scored at the end of the first quarter Leinster never really looked like losing, tightening their grip as the match progressed and claiming the bonus point in the final ten minutes.

The men in blue had a small edge in most areas of the field while Edinburgh were second best by a margin in almost every aspect of play. Edinburgh are not a million miles away from their illustrious opponents but, in truth, Leinster were well below their clinical best, leaving several scores out on the pitch, yet in comparison with the visitors, the home side were ruthlessly clinical.


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Edinburgh didn’t play badly but they couldn’t match the intensity that Leinster brings to every match and the visitors’ discipline was also poor, conceding the sort of daft penalties that have coaches weeping tears of frustration in the stands.

“We’re really frustrated, we thought we played some good stuff but it is fairly obvious that the difference between the two teams is that when Leinster got into our 22 they usually came out with points, and when we got pressure inside their 22 we didn’t come out with any points,” reflected Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair afterwards.

“The only try w got came from a breakaway, so fair play to Leinster, they were really ruthless in that area, and it is something we need to be better at. What we’ve done so far this season is back ourselves when we’ve got into positions to pick up points but it didn’t happen tonight.

“I know they’ve got guys missing but that was a strong Leinster team. We’ve got guys missing as well, but I was delighted with the effort we showed. The difference is what happened in the 22. We’ve got Munster next week and the main focus is how we find momentum in our game.”

The one-sided nature of this contest was not obvious in the opening exchanges which saw Edinburgh control possession. Henry Pyrgos was on the money with his box-kicks and an enthusiastic kick-chase was rewarded several times. Indeed, Edinburgh almost inched the ball over the Leinster line to open the scoring thanks to No 8 Mesulame Kunavula, only for the referee to spot an illegal double movement.

The big Fijian had his moments but perhaps he overdoes his party trick. Carrying the ball one-handed into contact just plays to Leinster’s strengths and, sure enough, he lost the ball at least once.

Edinburgh’s cause was not helped by a yellow-card after 19 minutes when the match was still scoreless. It was flashed at Conor Boyle for a head-on-head collision with Leinster centre Ciaran Frawley who was being tackled by Charlie Savala at the time. Frawley was replaced after the incident by Harry Byrne.

Boyle had impressed ahead of the incident and impressed when he returned to the field of play; a real bright spark for the away team, earning his side at least three turnovers which probably matched the rest of his team combined.

The deadlock on the scoreboard was immediately broken in the opening seconds of the power-play as Leinster picked and drove a five metre penalty until they barrelled over the Edinburgh line with flanker Scott Penny getting the plaudits and Ross Bryne adding the extras.

Leinster’s second came around the half hour mark, with Boyle back in harness, when Edinburgh’s inability to clear their lines was punished mercilessly. No 8 Max Deegan made the initial line break and a few phases later debutant scrum-half Nick McCarthy, formerly with Munster, had a simple task to make a diagonal dive over the line after all the heavy lifting had been done.

Edinburgh were relieved to get off the field at half time with no worse than a 14-0 deficit after Kunavula’s indiscipline gifted Leinster one last throw of the dice only for a knock on to halt them in their tracks.

 

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The first score of the second half was always going to be an important one and, thanks to another Boyle turnover, Edinburgh had first dibs just as they did at the start of the game. Three times Edinburgh set up their driving maul and three times the Leinster defence proved up to the task.

From an attacking scrum, Edinburgh then ran through 14 phases on the Leinster line with nothing to show for all their efforts. After another attacking Edinburgh scrum, Henry Immelman’s scoring pass to winger Ramiro Moyana flew well forward and the opportunity to challenge for the win went west with it.

The third quarter of the game had taken place inside the Leinster half but remained scoreless. On 62 minutes Leinster broke Edinburgh’s siege. Three minutes later they earned a five metre line-out and they scored their third try at the second attempt on 67 minutes through replacement prop Vakh Abdalabze.

Leinster had 12 minutes to find the bonus point. It took them three. A midfield break by Rory O’Loughlin caused panic in Edinburgh’s scramble defense and when the ball was moved back to the left Deegan stretched out a long arm to claim the bonus point score even if replays clearly showed he was short of the line with his first attempt.

Almost immediately, Edinburgh belatedly responded. Replacement centre Cammy Hutchison found Emiliano Boffelli unmarked on the left wing with a long miss pass and the classy Argentinean showed great pace and footwork to step inside the final defender before arcing out and then back in to offer the visitors a crumb of comfort.

 

Teams –

Leinster: J Osborne; T O’Brien, R O’Loughlin, C Frawley (H Bryne 19), D Kearney; R Byrne, N McCarthy (McGrath 55); E Byrne (Dooley 61), J Tracey (Cronin 55), M Ala’alatoa (Abdaladze 55), R Molony, J Murphy (Toner 56), M Moloney, S Penny, M Deegan.

Edinburgh: H Immelman; R Moyana, M Curry, J Lang (Huchinson 74), E Boffelli; C Savala (van der Walt 73), H Pyrgos (Shiel 56); B Venter (Grahamlaw 67), A McBurney (Cherry 53), L-R Atalifo (Armstrong 53), M Sykes, G Young (Philips 61), B Muncaster, C Boyle (van Niekerk 73), M Kunavula.

 

Scorers –

Leinster: Tries: Penny, McCarthy, Abdaladze, Deegan; Con: R Byrne 3.

Edinburgh: Try: Boffelli; Con: Boffelli.

Yellow cards –

Edinburgh: Boyle (19 mins)

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU).


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About Iain Morrison 69 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

3 Comments

  1. Only saw the last 20 minutes on TV when Leinster scored a couple of their tries and we got the one. It sounds like the score doesnt reflect the overall play with Edinburgh not taking chances based on Blairs comments. But thats the game – you’ve got to take your chances and Leinster have one of the toughest defences. At least it looks like we matched them pretty well with a highly weakened side. All good learning for some of the less experienced guys and hey its only Munster away next week which will be a critical game for how the league ends up.

    • I watched the whole game and edinburgh got a consolation try near the death. Game was over by then. Leinster in complete control for the majority of that game and never looked like losing.

  2. Just shows Leinster have a much better squad than Edinburghs.
    Edinburgh had their chances but spurned them / thwarted by very impressive home defence. Boyles YC (slightly unfortunate IMO) as well as not scoring in 1st 1/4 of pretty much ended the chances of Edinburgh. Visitors attack somewhat dull when try line in sight.
    I like VDW, he latterly looked poor during the RC reign (but didn’t everyone) – Edinburgh played their best rugby when he came on and scored their lovely try late in the game. I know BK sort of suits Edinburgh but VDW deserves another chance.
    Edinburghs efforts cannot be faulted.

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